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Lorrie Morgan show offered at no charge to the public

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grand Ole Opry star Lorrie Morgan takes the stage Friday night during Lewisburg's Ninth Annual Goats Music & More Festival in Rock Creek Park.

Morgan's concert is open to the public at no charge, contrary to what has all the markings of a spoof by someone who anonymously submitted a community calendar item to neighboring media that erroneously stated a price for tickets.

However, Morgan's appearance was booked at a cost of $15,000, a sum paid in 2007 for John Anderson, known for his hit "Swinging." Morgan's three number-one hits are "Five Minutes," "What Part of No" and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength."

No tickets are needed for Morgan's 7 p.m. show, but City Hall has distributed - at no charge - tickets to sponsors of the show as well as councilmen and others who will have reserved front row seats.

The erroneous information reported Monday lists a phone number for Bear Creek Farms Country Resort, a restaurant and lodge in Bryant, Ind., according to information from the Internet. The resort's answering machine says it's closed until today.

City Hall received "several calls" about the community calendar notice based on false information received from an unknown source, according to Eddie Fuller, chairman of the Goats Music & More Committee. He suspected it might be more than a prank - that someone was trying to cheat people out of money paid for concert tickets listed for $35-$60 in the free listing.

"I think I'm going to talk to Forbis about it," Fuller said, referring to Police Chief Chuck Forbis.

Fuller is the immediate past city manager and has been a significant part of the festival since it started. The committee has dozen volunteers and eight or nine are usually at the monthly meetings starting in February.

That, however, is four months before the city's annual budget is adopted and this year some councilmen were reluctant to promise city money would be spent for the festival, largely because of the recessionary economy.

Still, the festival continues with competition during goat shows and competing vendors selling wares, food and other things from time-sharing cabins to knickknacks.

Pressed for information about festival financing, Fuller offered comparisons.

"Last year we had an $80,000 budget and we only spent about $71,000 and there was $20,000 spent on entertainment," he said.

Sponsors and vendors donate or pay money for the festival.

"When we totaled everything spent out of pocket, revenue was about $20,000 under what we spent," Fuller said of last year's program.

Tents for the goat shows and goat pens are erected behind the Lewisburg Gas Department's building. Space is rented to goat farmers for their billy and nanny goats.

"So we had about $51,000 to $52,000 in revenues," Fuller said, indicating the Festival budget was supplemented with approximately $20,000 last year.

This year's budget started at $80,000, including $5,000 from Marshall County to pay prize money to winners of the Battle at Rock Creek, a competition between local amateur bands.

As Fuller reported Morgan's show is costing $15,000, the same as John Anderson. In 2007, the most personal show was probably that of Shenandoah in 2009 when the concert went on regardless of the rain. It was moved from the main stage to the Farmers Market pavilion. Shenandoah cost $5,500. Seating was excellent.

"There's nobody cheap," Fuller said.

The Kentucky Headhunters headlined GM&M last year.

"Everybody asks 'Why don't you get so and so?'" Fuller said Monday. "We have and still are getting people who've made a name ... because we know if there's someone who people don't know, people won't come."

Missing from this year's GM&M is the Lewisburg Rotary Club's barbecue cook off. It was held in June when vendors were again part of a festival in Rock Creek Park, and there were two concerts. One was with Joey & Rory, a husband and wife team that sings their own songs and has built a strong following. They live near Pottsville and had a sizeable audience.

Recalling how the first GM&M festival was started, Fuller said, "We actually got a grant from the Rural Development." It's a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

T.G. Sheppard, also known as The Good Sheppard, was the big act that year.

In 2004, Percy Sledge, known for his hit "When a Man Loves a Woman," was the star "and perhaps 3,000 people stood out in the cold to hear him sing," Fuller said.

The next month, Sledge was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

That year, 2004, "was when the crowds really started to come in," Fuller said. "I couldn't believe the crowds we started to draw."

Sledge was paid $20,000, Fuller said. He wanted it in cash and in denominations so he could pay his band.

Before the show went on, Sledge "wanted his money and he sat there and counted every dollar," Fuller said.

Then the singer sat down and watched an Atlanta Braves game while eating barbecued goat.

Sometimes the festival is just called Goatfest, and the fainting goats - brought to Marshall County by a farmer who left a few years later - have become the endearing beasts of goat herders here and in nearby counties.